1. What is Creative Intelligence?
We are all creating all the time — both consciously and unconsciously – but our understanding of how, and our confidence in the process, has been suppressed in us (see 6 & 7 below).
The concept of creative intelligence gives us a tool to understand and apply this dimension of human life that can sometimes feel erratic, nebulous, anarchic and difficult to pin down.
2. Can you give me a definition?
Human intelligence is the capacity for knowing, learning and evolving. Creative intelligence, a vital dimension of that capacity, involves going beyond the given to generate novel and interesting ideas, experiences and objects.
In writing and art, the ‘given’ takes the form of cliche, of tried-and-tested forms and ideas. In life, the ‘given’ includes the societal dynamics into which we are born and, significantly, our ownABCDEs – the attitudes, beliefs, concepts, denials and expectations that make up our habitual thoughts and feelings about what is possible or desirable.
Human creativity is activated through processes of intention and attention. When we become aware of these processes, we can learn how to direct them into what psychologists call creative flow.
3. What happens?
I like this, very ancient, description of flow by Patanjali, the humble physician credited with putting the yoga sutras into writing: “Thoughts break their bonds, your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world [where] …dormant forces, faculties and talents come alive.” Many writers and artists have also given eloquent descriptions of this sense of inspiration in action.
Essentially, owning and honing your creative intelligence allows you to access this state.
Trying to catch hold of inspiration is like trying to squeeze water – the tighter your grasp, the less you hold. What we can do though is understand the conditions, states and practices that enable it to flow (see 11 below) and make changes that encourage them. Being inspired is, in many ways, a choice.
5. So creative intelligence is not just something for writers and artists?
No. Productive writers and artists have learned how to apply this intelligence to their work (though not necessarily to their lives). But the intelligence itself is present, though often suppressed, in us all. We all own it, we can all hone it.
6. Who suppressed it in us?
We ourselves mostly — with help from family members, school, workplaces, consumer culture and authority figures of all kinds.
7. I wasn’t taught about this intelligence in school?
Since its inception alongside the Industrial Revolution of the mid-nineteenth century Britain, formal schooling has favoured the analytical, organizational abilities of the brain, those abilities that are essential to sorting, ordering and figuring out, which can be (to some degree) measured by IQ tests. In fostering these abilities and their way of thinking about the world, school taught to repress other, deeper dimensions of our intelligence.
8. Why did educators do this?
Creative intelligence is more difficult to facilitate and measure. And schools and workplaces favored analytical intelligence because it trained us for efficiency — the highest value in the industrial (19th century) and information (20th century) economies. Now, as we move into the more fluid and flexible creative (21st century) economy, intelligence values are changing.
9. Does that mean we no long need analytical intelligence?
No. We will always need to know how to order, rank and figure things out. It is just that we are realising our minds are capable of much more than we have traditionally allowed.
10. If I was creatively intelligent, how would I know?
- You would recognise the relationship with your own creative process as the No 1 relationship in your life, the one that defines all the others.
- You would allow yourself to observe and express the truth of your unique character and experience.
- You would be awake to life through seven senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell, overall perception and intuition).
- You would know how to summon stillness, awareness and presence and do so regularly.
- You would see that you are not separate from the rest of creative life, that the same process that creates one thing creates all things.
- You would allow challenging relationships and events in your life to teach you what you need to know.
- You would understand that creative intelligence is not acquired so much as accessed. It is alway there for us though we are not always there for it.
- You would feel confident of your ability to create because you would know how to tune into your creative potential.
11. How can I use my creative intelligence?
However you want. Once you understand the process and how it works, you can apply it to any aspect of life – relationships, hobbies, money, work – to create what you truly want and enjoy the process of bringing it into being.
12. That sounds too good to be true.
It is pretty wonderful and it is simple to do. However, going beyond the given does call for a particular kind of effort. A level of attention to life as it is unfolding that is simple, but not always easy, to pay. A willingness to be challenged and endure disruption. A lessening of attachment to outcomes. An opennes to failure as a learning experience.
For some people, opening new dimensions of mental and emotional freedom and possibility can be destabilising, even frightening.
For these, and other reasons of discomfort, people often resist their own creative spirit.
F-R-E-E-Writing and Meditation are two proven practices that foster self-awareness and creative breakthrough. These practices are easy to learn — but they require regular commitment and the ability to recognise and overcome internal resistance (as in 12 above) to be effective.
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